Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.
Young people are bringing spoken word to the White House.
Two young poets from Youth Speaks' Brave New Voices national poetry festival were invited to perform for the President and First Lady, as part of a line-up that also included James Earl Jones, Lin Manuel Miranda, Mayda Del Valle, and Esperanza Spalding.
Joshua Bennett, 19 years old, is originally from Yonkers NY and comes out of Urban Word NYC. Jamaica Osorio, 18, is a member of Youth Speaks Hawai'i. The White House event is part of an ongoing conversation the Obama Administration has initiated on the role of the arts and arts education as tools for change.
For more from these young poets and their super talented counterparts around the country, check out the Brave New Voices HBO special, presented by Russell Simmons and narrated by Queen Latifah, which has its finale on Sunday, May 17th.
And here's the poem Joshua Bennett chose to perform for the Obamas: Tamara's Opus.
Tamara has never listened to hip-hop.
Never danced to the rhythm of raindrops or fallen asleep to a chorus of chirping crickets
she has been deaf
for as long as I have been alive
and ever since the day I first turned five
My father said
Nothing is wrong with Tamara
God just makes some people different.
And at that moment
those nine letters felt like hammers
swung gracefully by unholy hands
to shatter my stained-glass innocence
that could never
be pieced back together
or do anything more
than sever the ties
between my sister and I
was patient numberless years
anticipating the second
her ears would open like lotuses
and allow my sunlight sentences to seep
into her insides
make her remember
all those conversations
we must have had in Heaven
back when God handpicked us
to be sibling souls
I still remember, her 20th birthday.
Readily recall my awestruck eleven-year old eyes
as I watched
deaf men and women of all ages
dance in unison to the vibrations
of speakers booming so loud
that I imagined angels chastising us
for disturbing their worship
with such beautiful blasphemy
until you have seen
a deaf girl dance
you know nothing of passion.
There was a barricade between us
that I never took the time to destroy
never for even a moment
thought to pick up a book and look up
the sign for sister
for goodbye, I will see you again some day
remember the face of your little brother.
It is only now I see
that I was never willing
to put in the extra effort to love her properly
So as the only person in my family
who is not fluent in sign language
I have decided to take this time
Tamara, I am sorry, for my silence.
but true love
knows no frequency.
so I will use these hands
to speak volumes
that could never be contained
within the boundaries of sound waves.
I will shout at the top of my fingertips
until my digits dance
and relay my mental messages
directly to your soul
I know, that there is no poem
that can make up for all the time we have lost
but please, if you can
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